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Fashion’s Awakening and Activism


Fashion and textile, which generate the world’s biggest waste in terms of percentage, are also two industries that recklessly disregard issues such as exploitation of labour, child labour, and wage inequality. While the imbalance of exchange that legitimizes this disregard has been growing for many years, the existential winds of change that have been initiated in us by the pandemic also spearheaded a movement of philanthropy among fashion brands. Despite the colossal crisis, many luxury fashion houses contributed to positive activism and was quick to act to mobilize all their resources during the pandemic. Burberry reorganised its trench coat factory in Castleford, Yorkshire to make surgical masks and patient gowns. Similarly, Giorgio Armani, Prada, and Chanel restructured their factory operations to fulfill various needs while brands like Versace and Gucci made big donations to hospitals in Italy. Moncler, Nike, Ermenegildo Zegna, Tom Ford, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bulgari helped people affected by Covid-19 by donating millions of dollars and supported health professionals and vaccination.


EARLY RISERS

Only a few people know that, long before the disaster that sparked this awakening, Vivienne Westwood, the queen of British fashion who introduced “modern punk” to the mainstream and passed away recently, leveraged her brand to effectively instill positive change. In the last 20 years, Westwood not only supported many organisations and hundreds of campaigns including Amnesty International,

War Child, and Liberty, but also made a great effort to fight climate change and its effects. Her partnership with Cool Earth raised more than 1 million pounds that was donated to save rainforests. TOMS is another brand that first comes to mind when we talk about brands that have a positive effect on local and global communities. The L.A.-based brand’s story began when founder Blake Mycoskie visited Argentina in 2006 and met a woman who worked for an organisation that made shoe donations. Having come up with the model “One for One,” the brand started donating a pair of shoes to kids in eight countries for each pair sold. Additionally, TOMS donates one-third of all profits to NGOs that raise awareness for mental health and support the fight against arms. Since 2011, the brand has been working with Save the Children. As part of its collaboration with the foundation, TOMS has donated more than one million pairs of shoes.


EMBRACING DIVERSITY

For most brands, Pride Month is one of the busiest times of the year. And Savage x Fenty is no exception. Every month, the customers of the brand, in whose DNA the concept of diversity is embedded, seem to celebrate a uniqueness that is synonymous with its founder Rihanna. This gives more meaning to the Savage x Pride collection because, instead of profiting off of this “movement,” the brand gives back to the community what it has earned from its fans. The brand collaborates with Clara Lionel Foundation, also founded by Rihanna, and donates every sale made in the Pride series to LGBTQIA+ organisations. Many long-established luxury and boutique brands are looking for a platform where they can make a lasting effect on social and environmental issues. This puts, on the radar of big companies, the new trend of philanthropy that is worth following in online retail. As the generation with the highest purchasing power, Gen Z invests more in the values of luxury brands. For instance, the online store Olivela—which features brands such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Valentino, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, Dolce & Gabbana, and Jimmy Choo—built a partnership with GOOD+ Foundation, Malala Fund, VH1 Save the Music, and Too Young To Wed and donates a substantial part of its revenue to these causes and families in need. We hope to see more partnerships like this in the future.




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